Modernism, Theatre, and the Axis of Language in India
May 1, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, UW-Madison
The global turn in modernist studies has offered scholars of India the first significant opportunity to position modern Indian literature and theatre in the new time-space of modernism. However, the long premodern history of these cultural forms, and their embeddedness in a complex system of multilingual literacy outside the Europhone fold, raises a range of critical issues that need systematic articulation. What are the implications of using language as a specific vector of analysis in modernist interpretation, in addition to the spatio-temporal and vertical vectors of the new modernist studies? Are Indian modernisms more easily “readable” in plastic, visual, and visual-verbal forms such as architecture, painting, and cinema? This presentation takes up these questions in relation to post/colonial Indian modernisms in general, and the interlinked genres of drama, theatre, and performance in particular.
Aparna Dharwadker is Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and works primarily in the areas of modern Indian and postcolonial theatre, comparative modern drama, theatre theory, and the global South Asian diaspora. Her book, Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947, received the Joe A. Callaway Prize in 2006 as the best book on drama or theatre published in 2004-05. Aparna’s articles and essays have appeared in journals and collections such as PMLA, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Research International, Studies in English Literature, Studies in Philology, South Central Review, English Postcoloniality, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has received fellowships from the NEH, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the International Research Centre (Freie Universistät, Berlin), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library, among others; at UW-Madison, she held the multi-year H. I. Romnes Fellowship for outstanding scholarship in the humanities. Aparna’s collaborative translation of Mohan Rakesh’s modernist play, Ashadh ka ek din (One Day in the Season of Rain, 1958) was published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2015, and A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present, an edited collection of source-texts in theatre theory from multiple Indian languages, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017.